This week Scotland Women have been preparing for a Uefa Nations League double-header against the Netherlands.
We play the Netherlands tonight in Nijmegen, before hosting them at Hampden on Tuesday.
It has been a little bit weird as I can’t really think of another time we’ve had to play the same team back-to-back in a matter of days – other than a two-legged play-off.
The fact it is a double-header probably doesn’t have much of an impact until after tonight’s game, because it is then you have the mental side of how you approach the second match, maybe depending on the outcome of the first.
You don’t normally get the same amount of time for a second match in a window due to the travelling and recovery, so the fact we’re playing the same team twice does benefit the preparation.
I’m sure both teams will make some adjustments and tweaks between game one and game two.
Tonight’s game is our third in our inaugural Nations League campaign, having picked up one point – in a 1-1 draw with Belgium – in our opening two matches last month.
This window is going to be very important for our campaign. The group is wide open and we know we need to get more points on the board to keep ourselves in contention.
We know are probably going into these matches as underdogs. The Netherlands have proven themselves to be one of the best teams in Europe over the last five or so years.
But we know what we are capable of, and we know the level we must perform to if we are to pick up those much-needed points.
In the last camp we played England – a 2-1 defeat – and Belgium, and there were plenty of things we took away from those matches that we have been working on.
We dominated the game against Belgium at Hampden and it was disappointing to not come away with all three points, but there were details in our game which we have been trying to implement over the past wee while and those came to fruition.
There were plenty of opportunities created – but we didn’t capitalise on them, which is something we know we will need to be better at against the Netherlands.
We felt like we had let ourselves down in the first half against England, but were much better in the second half. And one of our biggest takeaways from that was we can go toe-to-toe with a team some would consider to be one of the best in the world.
When we were last together in September, for some of us our domestic seasons had not started yet. It feels much better to meet up with more football in the tank.
There are players in the squad who have started their club seasons well and hopefully they can carry that form into their performances with the national team.
Martha Thomas has hit the ground running at her new club Tottenham and has scored seven goals in five games already this season.
She has been very bubbly and energetic in camp. Martha has said during the week, too, that she is happy and is back enjoying her football again.
As a striker if that is how you are feeling going into games, there is a strong correlation with the sort of opportunities you end up finding yourself having on the pitch, so hopefully that continues during her time with Scotland.
With me also playing in England, my season also hadn’t started when we last came together and I feel better for it now coming into this camp.
You get into a good routine of getting yourself sharp for games and preparing properly for all the moments you might have to contend with in these high-stake games.
The Netherlands a strong outfit – with or without Miedema
The Netherlands received a boost by the inclusion of striker Vivianne Miedema – who had been out for almost a year with an ACL injury – in their squad for the upcoming matches against us.
She made her return to action after 310 days out for Arsenal on Sunday when she came on as an injury-time substitute against Bristol City.
It is great to see any player return from injury – and especially after such a long time on the sidelines.
From my own experience being out injured, I know how good it is to return to a camp after an injury and that positive energy can help impact others in the camp, too.
It is early days in her return, so I am not sure how much she will feature during this camp – or if she will play at all.
It is probably a bit of a relief from a Scotland perspective that she only got a few minutes at the weekend.
But if it’s not Miedema, it will be somebody else, as the Netherlands boast a strong squad with a lot of quality and experienced players.
They have a lot of depth in the forward areas, but that is something we have prepared for and are ready to deal with.
Villa’s start disappointing, but there is time to turn things around
It has been a difficult start to the FA WSL season for my club Aston Villa.
We have had a difficult run of fixtures against Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs, and have not yet put any points on the board.
Our last game ended in a 4-2 defeat to Spurs and it would have been good to have had the chance to come together as soon as possible after that game to reflect on it, but we have had the international break to focus on.
The break in league fixtures does give you a chance to go away and reflect on other objectives. It can be good to come back having been in a different environment.
There have been some disappointing moments and we know we have let ourselves down, but it is the beginning of the season and there are plenty more opportunities to come.
We have a good squad and we will be boosted by the return of some players in the coming weeks who have missed the start of the campaign.
We have to take control of our narrative and look to put things right when we return to club duty in our next match against Chelsea.